April 2019 Innovate

Imprint Genius Disrupting Promotional Item Industry

Written By: Isaac Hetzroni

Since I was a little kid, I was always fascinated by technology and gadgets. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I was always encouraged to make money on my own. The countless trips to detention for selling gadgets out of my backpack in middle school somehow led me to where I am today.

My company started the first month of summer B freshman year. I had discovered a unique product, a fan that plugs into your cellphone and uses the battery power to then deliver cool air.

I brought the gadget to a party on a hot and humid summer day. After I took it out, the next thing I knew there were about a dozen people surrounding me trying to get cool air from the fan. Everyone was asking me where I got it, and all the girls said they absolutely needed one for sorority rush.

My response was then to say, on a whim, “I’m Isaac the fan guy. I sell them for $5. Let me get everyone’s numbers, and I’ll have more in a couple weeks.”

If you get people branded goods that they actually want, or will actually wear, you will have a higher return on your marketing spend.

I went home to order 100 cellphone fans, and I sold them all within the first week after I received them. The next thing I knew, by the end of summer B, I had reps at five different schools, and we were selling thousands of cellphone fans at parties and football games around the country.

Everything changed when someone asked me to put their logo on one of the blades of the fan to use as a promotional item. That sparked the idea of taking this gadget and introducing it into the promotional item industry.

The product blew up, and we were getting dozens of requests for the fan, as well as other cool gadgets. That’s when it struck me: “Why do promotional items have to be so boring?” We go to events, get an entire bag full of boring crap, and throw most of it in the trash once we get home.

That’s when I decided to start Imprint Genius, a company focused on disrupting the boring and outdated promotional item industry. Now, I’m in my junior year at 21 years old, and we have grown more than I would have imagined. We are 100 percent student-run, with an 11-person team that works out of our office in UF Innovate | The Hub.

We’re selling to hundreds of different companies around the country. We offer thousands of different promotional items – custom selfie drones, smart water bottles, pulse balloons, a whole line of LED backlit item logos and much more. We use a direct shipment model from China, instead of going mainly through US suppliers like our competitors do, to have the best pricing and options out there. We destroy everyone on high volume orders over 2,000 pieces because of this.

All of our custom apparel is extremely competitively priced and comfortable. The idea is ultimately this: If you get people branded goods that they actually want, or will actually wear, you will have a higher return on your marketing spend.

We are on track to hit a quarter million in sales this year. After I graduate, I’ll stay in Gainesville to work full time and keep the company growing. Our goal is to become one of the largest suppliers of custom branded goods in the country.  

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